McKay Managers Start Agency

Two former managers at defunct McKay Communications have launched BrewiMurray Advertising in Quincy, Mass.

Mike Brewi, who had been McKay’s director of client services, is president of the startup. Rob Murray serves as creative director, the same position he held at McKay, the mid-sized Boston agency that closed amid amid crippling debt in the spring [Adweek, May 1].

At present, Brewi and Murray are the lone employees of the shop. Perhaps taking a lesson from McKay’s failed attempt at rapid expansion, Brewi and Murray have no plans to add full-time staff for at least six months.

“We’re running lean and mean until we pick up some [more] business,” Brewi said. “We’re keeping pretty small. We’re used to hard work and long hours.”

For the short term, the pair rely on a loose network of freelance talent in the Boston area and New York. “Art directors and design-ers, market researchers, media resources—we can pick and choose from among these people” for various client projects, Brewi explained. The startup is working for one former McKay client, Merriam Webster, and is handling projects for Arrayworks, a software firm, and JM Perrone, a direct marketing concern, Brewi said.

After a fast five-year rise into the mid-sized agency ranks, McKay ceased operations in April, shortly after the unexpected departure of founder and chairman John McKay. The shop in a letter sent to its creditors, cited debts totaling $1.7 million and tangible assets of $35,000.

Agency partner Joe Burnieika attempted to regroup with some of McKay’s clients and staff, opening Harborside Communications, which closed after a few weeks [Adweek, May 15]. Burnieika now heads public relations at Devine & Pearson, Quincy, Mass.